Colleges and Institutes Canada has revealed a three-year international strategy which it says will help members to pursue new international education opportunities.
The strategy seeks to “futureproof” the network of 142 publicly funded colleges and institutes through internationalisation and global engagement.
“The world is a very different place than it was only two years ago,” CICan president and CEO, Denise Amyot, said in a statement.
“Our members are emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic with a great repository of new knowledge, insight, and innovation that they are ready to share around the world. This new strategy will guide the college and institute sector and ensure that our work contributes to a more equitable and sustainable world.”
Three pillars included in the plan include “futureproofing Canada; bringing the world to Canada; taking Canada to the world”, and complements the organisation’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, CICan noted.
The plan is designed to help members reach goals around sustainable development, equality and equity, diversity and inclusion.
It is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly surrounding inclusive and equitable access to Quality Education (SDG 4), Gender Equality (SDG 5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10), and Climate Action (SDG 13).
CICan has committed to placing gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment at the core of its international development cooperation work and adopt an organisation-wide gender policy that will “reinforce gender equality principles and guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of all our programs and activities”.
Additionally, it will promote outbound mobility opportunities for Canada’s Indigenous students and educators. To do so it will identify international cooperation opportunities that support Indigenous communities, and facilitate the sharing of Indigenous knowledge in an international context where possible.
The $95 million Global Skills Opportunity program – which CICan jointly administers with Universities Canada – will see a new round of innovation funding to help members “generate new program models and concepts for outbound mobility, and to allow them to broaden partnerships”.
CICan will advocate with Universities Canada, for a permanent, federal student outbound mobility program. Funding for the current GSO program runs until 2025.
It will also push for virtual mobility, Collaborative Online International Learning and short-term outbound mobility opportunities for members’ students.
In a bid to diversify student recruitment, CICan will “continue to advocate for the modernisation of the study permit application process aimed at increasing transparency and information sharing to increase approval rates and reduce processing times, especially in new or emerging source countries as well as those with low approval rates”.
A parliamentary committee recently recommended that IRCC should make the study permit process more transparent to reduce discrimination against African students.
It also seeks to improve transitions for international students through the use of targeted permanent residency streams. CICan will also sponsor a national dialogue for members and relevant stakeholders “to identify best practices and gaps in supporting labour market transitions”.
“We will advocate for additional federal support for the unique settlement needs of international graduates”
“We will advocate for additional federal support for the unique settlement needs of international graduates,” the document noted.
Ongoing advocacy will “ensure that the post-graduate work permit program is optimally designed to support international graduates of Canada’s public colleges and institutes as they transition to the labour market”, it continued.
It will also advocate for permanent federal policies to ensure international students have “more flexible” education delivery options while they continue to meet employment and permanent residency requirements, after the “significant” strides members made on ‘hyflex’ learning options during the pandemic.
“Many of our members expressed a growing interest in developing new business in TNE,” the strategy added.